Saturday, April 1, 2017

April 1, 2001 -- Soldier Field Reactions

April 1, 2001 – In the wake of the city council’s approval of the “Spaceship-Landing-in-a-Stadium” plan for Soldier Field the previous week, Chicago Tribune columnist Dennis Byrne lets off some steam.  “Seems that no one is happy with the conversion of Soldier Field,” Byrne writes.  “… the biggest hoo-hah comes from the city’s preservation and lakefront protection forces … but here’s the real irony.  The truth is that the city came up with this spooky design, retaining the historic columns and outer walls, to try to satisfy preservationist and adaptive reuse champions … all that this fiddling with Soldier Field has gotten the city is a lot of headaches, and perhaps one of the silliest looking structures ever to hit town … Better that the city just said, the hell with it, there’s no satisfying these folks.  We’re going to tear the whole thing down and build a stadium from scratch – one that looks, feel and functions like a Twenty-First Century stadium.  Call it Soldier Field, and honor the veterans by making it better than the old, falling down one.  Make it something worthy of a Twenty-First Century city whose glory remains the same can-do, risk-taking spirit that made it such a great Twentieth Century city.  Anyone out there with the guts?”  [Chicago Tribune, April 1, 2001]

April 1, 1935 -- The cornerstone of the Loop Orthodox Synagogue at 16-18 North Clark Street is laid at noon, the ceremony led by the president of the congregation, Louis A. Wittenberg. The new house of worship will occupy three floors above a restaurant and will hold a two-story auditorium holding 325 worshippers. This will be the second of four homes for the congregation, the first being on the ninth floor of a building at 6 North Clark, the original home of the congregation in 1929.  The 1935 building was gutted on April 10, 1954 when the restaurant on the ground floor went up in flames as 5,000 people watched the 2-11 alarm fire. The congregation purchased that property on Clark Street in July of 1954, and construction began in March, 1955. During the building phase the sacred scrolls were moved up Clark Street in a solemn procession, and worship was held on the 21st floor of the Morrison Hotel, where today the Daley Center stands. The synagogue has undergone a fascinating transformation that mirrors the transformation of Chicago's downtown. Originally a "businessman's synagogue," with 1,000 members, drawing commuters who were already established members of their home synagogues, it today opens its doors to vacationers and out-of-town business people and provides a home congregation for all of the folks who have made downtown Chicago their home.  Its Scholar in Residence program allows Jews of all denominations to join in a weekend of Jewish learning, and there are daily mid-day Bible study classes and Saturday Torah study classes as well.

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